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Baltimore Co. judge prevents release of petitioners’ names in Solo Cup site dispute

A Baltimore County Circuit Court judge Thursday issued a temporary restraining order against the county Board of Elections preventing it from releasing the names of nearly 95,000 petitioners in an ongoing feud over the redevelopment of the former Solo Cup manufacturing plant in Owings Mills.

Judge Kathleen Cox issued the order at the request of the Committee for Zoning Integrity Inc., which collected the signatures and turned them into county elections officials 10 days ago to be verified.

The petitioners seek to have an Aug. 28 vote by the Baltimore County Council for new zoning maps in Districts 2 and 6 sent to referendum in November 2014.

Howard Brown, the leader of the opponents of the redevelopment of the Solo Cup site to a new shopping center anchored by Wegmans called Foundry Row, helped to form the committee. In the 6th District, developer David Cordish joined the fray after the new zoning map threatened the future of a shopping center he owns anchored by a Walmart.

Cox ordered that the county elections board not release the names of the petitioners until after a hearing on the merits of the case, scheduled for Wednesday afternoon in Towson. The board on Oct. 24 issued a ruling that it would release the names to officials of Greenberg Gibbons, the developer of Foundry Row, so the company could perform an independent verification of all of the signatures.

Brian Gibbons, president of Greenberg Gibbons, did not return a call for comment Thursday.

In its complaint for the temporary restraining order, the committee’s attorney, Stuart Kaplow, said that releasing the signatures on the petitions would violate the signer’s First Amendment rights for free speech under the U.S. Constitution.

Kaplow also alleged that signature collectors hired by Brown and Cordish had been physically assaulted by “blockers” hired by Gibbons.

One such assault occurred Oct. 15 in the parking lot of the Cockeysville branch of the Baltimore County Public Library, the complaint states.

Helchie K. Watts, a “blocker” wearing a Ronald Reagan mask, beat up a 55-year-old grandmother, Debra McLain, who had been hired by the committee to seek signatures for the referendum, the complaint states. The assault did not result in an arrest but rather a peace order from the Baltimore County District Court, the complaint states.

3 comments

  1. this is ridiculous. debra is an insane lady. she hit him first. and he was attacked by her boyfriend. get your story straight i believe that slander is also an offense.

  2. Helchie did not hit that woman. the police already talked to him about this incident. he was let go after the video survellance was watched. debra is extremely aggressive. she is hardly a victim. these accusations are absurd!!!

  3. Question was the male and female of the agressor white? This is considered the south in Baltimore, MD. If he was defending himself and the agressor lied because he was black makes a huge difference. It’s a race thing It would never seem right that Helchie attacks a 55 year old woman I would fly to Baltimore to defend him if this ends up in court I’ve worked with Mr. Watts in Washington State and in California and I’ve never seen this aggression in Mr.Watts towards women. Thses people lied to Baltimore PD. which is a misdemeanor in most state falsely a police report. If their were camera the police should go check the camer video. I would defend Mr.Watts in a court of law and I will gather every one that Mr. Watts that has worked with to defend his cases and they are a bunch of us to stand up for what is right.

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